As the debate over repeal of Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance continues inside the Capitol, legislators are on the precipice of making a costly error, resulting in higher rates and more litigation, and benefiting the state’s trial lawyers at the expense of Florida drivers.
The fact is that PIP repeal will raise insurance rates for consumers. Period.
Why? Because auto related litigation will increase, the size of awards will increase, and because the coverage that would replace PIP will cost more. These are not speculative statements; they are the facts based on what has happened in other states where PIP has been repealed.
Now, Florida insurers are on the record estimating more than 40% of Floridians currently purchase less auto insurance than the new proposed minimum limits. For these Floridians, insurers estimate premiums will increase by hundreds of dollars a year — in one estimate by $320 per year; another estimated increases of $580 per year — for a two-car, two-driver policy.
And these increases impact the most price sensitive consumers, for whom significant premium increases mean choosing between carrying the minimum limit or simply driving without insurance.
Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis spoke directly about the impact.
“When you go to the household budget, and you say I’m going to increase your insurance rates by x number of a state mandate, people will make choices. They’re not going to stop paying their property tax bill because they don’t want to lose their home. But they may go naked on their car insurance,” Patronis said.
Others share Patronis’ concerns.
Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier, who directly oversees insurance matters for the state told House members in March that such a drastic change gave him pause, saying he was “not convinced” such a major overhaul to Florida’s insurance markets is a good idea.
In voicing his opposition to the bill on the Senate floor, Sen. Jeff Brandes paraphrased House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s infamous quote, “We have to pass the bill in order to find out what’s in it.”
With PIP repeal, Brandes said, “In this case, we have to pass the bill to find out how much it costs. That’s no way for the Florida Senate to do business.”
Brandes then pointed out that although the bill has been around for months, the massive changes to the legislation at the last minute on the Senate floor made it impossible to know exactly how much more Floridians would have to pay for auto insurance.
Anyone who doubts Patronis, Altmaier or Brandes need only look to Colorado.
In 2003, Colorado ditched the no-fault PIP system in favor of the same type of mandatory bodily injury protection trial lawyers are pushing in Florida. Insurance rates are now rapidly rising as are the number of uninsured drivers in Colorado.
Florida’s experience would likely mirror Colorado’s longer-term experience — with a corresponding increase in auto insurance related litigation and the size of awards also likely to grow. Today, Colorado is third in the nation for premium increases and sits in the top 10 for overall cost of auto insurance.
The bottom line: Florida’s trial lawyers are putting their own interests above Florida consumers by inviting legislators and Gov. Ron DeSantis to become accessories in a scheme that will hit Floridians hard in the wallet and leave them holding the bag, just as it did in Colorado.
April 27, 2021 at 4:34 am
First off, the issue of “No Fault” verses “At Fault” insurance has nothing to do with advancing “personnel responsibility” and giving the consumer “the right” to “opt out” of insurance that the consumer thinks is unnecessary. It is about generating more revenue for lawyers mandating a “Full Tort” adversarial process rather than the “Limited Tort” process of No Fault.
No Fault is dominant across the land because it is simpler to work with for all parties, more efficient and less costly. Focusing on “minimums” is just gaslighting. Numbers like $10,000 or $25,000 can easily be eclipsed by one visit to an E. R. Insurance provides no meaningful financial safety unless it spans well into six figures and includes the same coverage for Under and Uninsured. And remember your “personal” health insurance does not cover auto or work related injuries. So if you are at fault, under the proposed change you will have no coverage for your own injuries.
Again, this is not an issue of “personal responsibility” with your decision only impacting you. With no insurance for a severe injury, you might not be able to meet the mortgage, now the entire family is out on the street, or maybe the kids will only have to drop out of college for a year. Even if you don’t have “family”, you’re injury can still adversely effects others when you you can’t do your job.
As for the issue of “fraud”, the only fraud is that which is being pushed upon the driving public by the trial lawyers and their lackies in the Florida legislature.
No less then two Cabinet members, the state CEO, and the State insurance commissioner have spoken against this auto-insurance change. All to deaf legislative ears.
To add insult to injury, over 15,000 emails have been sent to the members of the house and senate by Florida citizens, drivers and voters, respectfully asking them to vote against this bill, with not one acknowledgement of this by any legislator.
Once again, we the people , must pay the price of a deaf legislature pushing a special interest (trail lawyer) agenda, with no accountability to the voters.
April 27, 2021 at 10:32 am
It took a while to figure out why this author has pushed so hard against Florida joining nearly every other state in requiring drivers carry bodily insurance coverage in the event the cause a crash.
There has been little mention of the influence the massive insurance lobby holds over politicians, and most wouldn’t think whether that reach extends to journalist. But where there is smoke there is fire: https://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/cash-for-coverage-questions-arise-about-local-political-blogger-peter/2152747/
Yes insurance rates will go up for many who currently carry such paltry insurance policies or have terrible driving records. But those are the people who should be paying more. Is anyone going to mention that responsible drivers who carry adequate insurance will no longer be forced to carry PIP. Let’s also forget about the doctors and hospitals who bill PIP 10X the cost for services vs. self pay or medical insurance.
It’s easy to make lawyers the scapegoat and bad guys when you don’t want to combat real issues and leave the status quo alone because it lines your pockets.
Insurance companies are beholden to shareholders and executives who want them to charge the most and payout the least, they are going to oppose anything that gets in the way of that. The system isn’t perfect but to ignore this fact and claim opposition to BI in the name of social justice is a joke.
April 27, 2021 at 12:17 pm
This system overhaul is way past do. Only two states out of 50 have this old, outdated and ridiculous PIP system. No, the rated will not increase. In fact, there is a good chance they will decrease due to this. Besides, how can some one be allowed to drive a motor vehicle without insurance coverage if they cause harm to someone else? All this is doing is protecting the people of this state. Florida is always slow to make change, but the time has come and this law needs to be passed now!!
Comments are closed.